Understanding Bone Fractures and What to Expect During the Healing Process

A bone fracture (otherwise known as a broken bone) is a serious injury that requires step-by-step care to ensure proper healing. Whether you’ve fractured your ankle, arm or any other bone, you will need to first seek medical attention for a proper diagnosis to determine the type of fracture before your doctors can administer the proper healing plan.

What Are the Types of Bone Fractures?

  • Closed fractures – A fracture that doesn’t break through the skin
  • Open or compound fractures – A fracture that forces the skin to break or open
  • Stress fractures – A small crack in the bone that is often hard to find even with imaging
  • Displaced fractures – A gap exists where the bone fractured
  • Complete fractures – A fracture that separates the bone into two
  • Partial fractures – A fracture that doesn’t go through the entire bone

What Causes Bone Fractures?

While some people can go their whole lives without breaking one bone, others may fracture multiple bones in a lifetime. Bones are tough but they can be vulnerable under certain conditions. Sporting accidents, car crashes and repetitive motions like running can lead to a fracture.

Older adults with osteoporosis also have an increased risk for bone fractures and should speak with their doctor about their condition.

How Can You Tell if a Bone Is Fractured?

These are the common symptoms of a broken bone:

  • Swelling
  • Severe or excruciating pain
  • Odd or unusual bumps, twists or bends in a limb or digit
  • Difficulty using the limb or extremity

How Are Bone Fractures Repaired?

In most cases, a doctor can treat a bone fracture using a splint or cast. Surgery may be necessary in more serious cases to realign the bone. If you need surgery, the doctor may repair the broken bone using steel plates, screws or fixators to secure the bone in place. The steel hardware may be removed after complete recovery, or your doctor may recommend leaving them in.

Speak with your doctor to discuss your pre-operative and post-operative care to get a better idea of what to expect.

What Are the Initial Steps of Healing After a Bone Fracture?

  1. Blood immediately coagulates in and around the bone, forming a hematoma
  2. Inflammation peaks at 24 hours to promote tissue regeneration and the production of primary callus
  3. Soft cartilaginous callus forms up to two weeks later, giving the bone stability and structure
  4. Hard bony callus (woven bone) absorbs and replaces the soft cartilaginous callus
  5. Lamellar bone (normal bone) replaces the hard bony callus three to four weeks later, beginning the regeneration process

Are There Any Complications to Expect During Recovery?

While not every patient will experience complications, it’s good to be aware of the possibilities.

  • Casts can cause pressure ulcers or sores and joint stiffness
  • Blood clots
  • Muscle bleeding or swelling around the fracture (otherwise known as compartment syndrome)
  • Bleeding and swelling in the joint (otherwise known as hemarthrosis)

How Long Does It Take to Recover from a Bone Fracture?

Since every fracture and patient is different, the time it takes to heal can vary depending on the type of break and the patient. Traditionally, it takes eight to twelve weeks for a bone fracture to completely heal. That timeline can vary based on the patient and the type of fracture. Older patients will typically face a slower recovery after a broken bone, and younger children can heal faster within a month.

See A Bone Fracture Specialist in Roseburg, Oregon

At Centennial Orthopedics and Podiatry, our dedicated team provides quality adult and pediatric fracture care to patients in Roseburg. If you’ve broken a bone, our skilled doctors can recommend a personalized treatment and recovery plan for you.

To schedule your consultation, call 541-229-2663 or send us a message.